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Reboot to ensure the mental health of your computer.


If you get one of those "Fatal Error", "Illegal Operation", "Bloomers Exploded", or other such dialog boxes telling you that something has gone terribly wrong.


No computer, no operating system, and no application program are perfect.  This may even include things you run on your desktop.  Believe it or not, things can go wrong with your computer.  When they do, they always happen at the most inopportune time, and cause the greatest amount of damage possible.  See The FishNose Universal Unified Theory of Everything. So, what does this mean to me?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  Every time a program crashes or your computer otherwise misbehaves, it leaves little remnants of bad stuff sitting in your computer's RAM. The only way to get rid of this bad stuff is to flush it down the old "toidy".  In computer terms, this means you had best reboot your system.

If you continue to work after you have had some sort of crash, error, or other calamity, the results will soon begin to cascade.  Things that were working just fine may go awry.  If you had every intention of shutting down the computer and restarting it, but you put it off for too long, you are just asking for other programs to fail.

Also, program or system task crashes may have caused temporary damage to some parts of the operating system that you might not notice right away.  The likelihood of other problems happening increases exponentially with each crash.  Eventually, continuing to work even though you shouldn't will probably cause your computer to hang, or completely implode (of course at the worst possible time).

Even if everything seems okay right now, your instinct would be to restart the program that just crashed.  This will compound the problem.  Please, stop what your doing and take the couple of minutes required to restart the computer.


The first thing you should do is attempt to close all open programs (saving your work, of course).  If a program appears not to be responding to your request to go away, you are seeing the first effects of your crash.  Fear not - it can only get worse.

Case 1:

  • Try clicking on the Start button.  Hopefully the Start menu will pop up.  From there, select Shut Down.  With any luck, the Shut Down dialog box will magically appear on your screen.
  • Make sure that the "Restart the Computer" item is selected.
  • Click the "Yes" button.
  • The computer should go through its regular "please wait while I fondle your nostrils" screen, and then restart itself.
  • I would recommend that you run ScanDisk.
  • Get back to work.

Case 2:

If Case 1 doesn't seem to be working and the computer does not respond to your request, you must resort to the "Ethiopian Strangle-Hold" maneuver.

  • Hold down the CTRL and the ALT keys.
  • Press the DELETE key
  • Release all keys
  • The amazing "Close Program" box should pop into the middle of the screen.   This box contains a list of all the things that Windows thinks are running on your computer.  Most of them will not appear familiar to you.  Don't worry.
  • Look for an item in the list that has the words "Not responding" following it.
  • Select this item, then click the "End Task" button.
  • With any luck, your computer should spring back to life again.  Go back to Case 1, and repeat as necessary.

Case 3:

Case 1 and Case 2 have failed you.  You don't know where to turn now.  You are developing an annoying itch in your middle ear.  Try this:

  • Once again, hold down the CTRL and ALT keys.
  • Press the DELETE key
  • Release all keys
  • The still-amazing "Close Program" box should pop up and surprise you.   Click the "Shut Down" button in this box.
  • Your computer should completely surprise you and comply with this request..

Case 4:

  • Nothing is working, you're getting a nosebleed, and your mouse is starting to resemble a turnip.  This is your last resort.  Do this only if all else fails.  Do not treat this step lightly.  Do not pass "GO".  Do not collect $200.
  • If your computer has a RESET button on the front panel, press it.  Then run up and down the halls clucking like a chicken (optional).
  • If you have no RESET button, turn off the power to the computer.  Then run up and down the halls croaking like a frog (optional).  Wait 2 full minutes (check the clock, I'm not kidding).  Then turn the power back on again.
  • If you have no POWER button on your computer, unplug it from the wall.  Then run down the hall, out the front door (not optional).  Don't ever plug the computer back in again.  Don't ever come back to the office again.  Don't go home again.   Immediately, hop aboard a freighter bound for the Outer Hebrides.  Eat lots of fish.  Don't write.
  • When your computer restarts, immediately run ScanDisk.
  • Get back to work.



Every precaution has been taken to insure that the procedures presented here will not cause damage to your computer system.  However, Mind Over Machines Inc. will not be responsible for any damage caused directly or indirectly by any advice and/or procedures given anywhere on this web site.  Likewise, we cannot be responsible for malfunctions caused by defective hardware, or unforeseen problems which arise from use of the standard Microsoft tools.  If problems do arise, we may attempt to assist in the diagnosis and eventual remedy, but cannot be held liable or bound to do so.

Contents Copyright (c) 1999-2004, Mind Over Machines Inc.

Page last updated 08/28/04.